History of a Genocide
In the spring of 1994 the tiny African nation of Rwanda exploded onto the international media stage, as internal strife reached genocidal proportions. But the horror that unfolded before our eyes had been building steadily for years before it captured the attention of the world.
In The Rwanda Crisis, journalist and Africa scholar Gérard Prunier provides a historical perspective that Western readers need to understand how and why the brutal massacres of 800,000 Rwandese came to pass. Prunier shows how the events in Rwanda were part of a deadly logic, a plan that served central political and economic interests, rather than a result of ancient tribal hatreds—a notion often invoked by the media to dramatize the fighting.
The Rwanda Crisis makes great strides in dispelling the racist cultural myths surrounding the people of Rwanda, views propogated by European colonialists in the nineteenth century and carved into "history" by Western influence. Prunier demonstrates how the struggle for cultural dominance and subjugation among the Hutu and Tutsi—the central players in the recent massacres—was exploited by racially obsessed Europeans. He shows how Western colonialists helped to construct a Tutsi identity as a superior racial type because of their distinctly "non-Negro" features in order to facilitate greater control over the Rwandese.
Expertly leading readers on a journey through the troubled history of the country and its surroundings, Prunier moves from the pre-colonial Kingdom of Rwanda, though German and Belgian colonial regimes, to the 1973 coup. The book chronicles the developing refugee crisis in Rwanda and neighboring Uganda in the 1970s and 1980s and offers the most comprehensive account available of the manipulations of popular sentiment that led to the genocide and the events that have followed.
In the aftermath of this devastating tragedy, The Rwanda Crisis is the first clear-eyed analysis available to American readers. From the massacres to the subsequent cholera epidemic and emerging refugee crisis, Prunier details the horrifying events of recent years and considers propsects for the future of Rwanda.
"Gérard Prunier's new history of the Rwandan genocide casts this sad moment into the black and white relief of print and commits to memory the struggle of those Rwandans who fell victim to the atrocities of last year's tragedy. His book is a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives, and an important contribution to the work of understanding the complexities of modern conflict." — The Boston Book Review
"Prunier's elucidation of [Rwanda's history] seems to me to be beyond praise. He has reconstructed the entire process by which a thorough modern genocide was planned.He has read all the documents. He has interviewed both perpetrators and survivors. He has anatomized the cold process of mass murder in both theory and practice." — Christopher Hitchens, Washington Post
"In this first English-language analysis of the Rwandan genocide, Prunier speaks from the unique persective of a knowledgeable but critical insider who is familiar with both the French establishment and the Rwandan Patriotic Front. In a lively and engaging voice, he offers the reader information unlikely to be found elsewhere." — Alison Des Forges, Consultant, Human Rights Watch/Africa
Map of Rwanda
1. Rwandese Society and the Colonial Impact: The Making of a Cultural Mythology (1894-1959
The physical setting
The Tutsi, the Hutu and the Abazungu
Myths and realities of pre-colonial Rwandese society
- Rwandese society
- The dynamics of Rwandese history
The colonial impact
- the Germans
- The Belgians
- The 'Rwandese ideology'
2. The Hutu Republic (1959-1990)
The 1959 muyaga and its consequences
The Kayibanda years (1961-1973)
The refugee problem
- The question of numbers
- Life in the diaspora
- The Ugandan factor
The Habyarimana regime
- The good years
- The atmosphere of the regime
- The crisis
- The RPF prepares for war
3. Civil War and Foreign Intervention (October 1990-July 1991)
The RPF strike and the first days of fighting
Settling down into a war culture
The reorganisation of the RDF
The advent of multiparty politics
4. Slouching towards Democracy (July 1991-June 1992)
The problems of democratisation
War and violence as parts of the political process
The new multiparty cabinet and the opening of peace negotiations
Hardlines, democrats and warriors in the Hutu/Tutsi context
5. The Arusha Peace Marathon (June 1992-August 1993)
The economic situation
Peace and its enemies
Negotiations feed the rise of extremism
The February war and its aftermath
Peace through exhaustion
6. Chronicle of a massacre foretold (4 August 1993-6 April 1994)
Waiting for UNAMIR
Ndadaye's murder: the shock and its exploitation
Hanging on to the cliff's edge
7. Genocide and renewed war (6 April-14 June 1994)
The enigma of President Habyarimana's death
The second week of April 1994
- Who were the organisers?
- Who were the killers?
- Who were the victims?
- Were there any bystanders?
- Patterns of killing
- The horrors
- Complexities of the situation
- Unknown heroes
- How long did it last?
- How many were killed?
- The refugees
From the outside looking in
8. 'Operation Turquoise' and Gotterdammerung in Central Africa (14 June-21August 1994)
Deciding and preparing for the intervention (14-23 June)
From the intervention to the fall of Kigali (23 June-4 July)
The fall of the northwest and the refugee explosion (4-19 July)
The new government and the cholera apocalypse (19 July-1 August)
'Turquoise is going away, the problems remain' (1-21 August)
9. Aftermath or new beginning? (22 August-31 December 1994)
The new refugee problem
Reconstruction and internal insecurity
What sort of political structure?
The attitude of the international community
Towards a provisional conclusion